nhaliday + polis   53

Maybe America is simply too big | Eli Dourado
The classic economics paper on optimal country size is by Alesina and Spolare (1997). They advance a number of theoretical claims in the paper, but in my view the most important ones are on the relationship between political and economic integration.

Suppose that the world is full of trade barriers. Tariffs are high, and maybe also it’s just plain expensive to get goods across the ocean, so there’s not a lot of international competition. In this situation, there is a huge advantage to political integration: it buys you economic integration.

In a world of trade barriers, a giant internal free trade area is one of the most valuable public goods that a government can provide. Because many industries feature economies of scale, it’s better to live in a big market. If the only way to get a big market is to live in a big country, then megastates have a huge advantage over microstates.

On the other hand, if economic integration prevails regardless of political integration—say, tariffs are low and shipping is cheap—then political integration doesn’t buy you much. Many of the other public goods that governments provide—law and order, social insurance, etc.—don’t really benefit from large populations beyond a certain point. If you scale from a million people to 100 million people, you aren’t really better off.

As a result, if economic integration prevails, the optimal country size is small, maybe even a city-state.
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10 weeks ago by nhaliday
Fortifications and Democracy in the Ancient Greek World by Josiah Ober, Barry Weingast :: SSRN
- Joshiah Ober, Barry Weingast

In the modern world, access-limiting fortification walls are not typically regarded as promoting democracy. But in Greek antiquity, increased investment in fortifications was correlated with the prevalence and stability of democracy. This paper sketches the background conditions of the Greek city-state ecology, analyzes a passage in Aristotle’s Politics, and assesses the choices of Hellenistic kings, Greek citizens, and urban elites, as modeled in a simple game. The paper explains how city walls promoted democracy and helps to explain several other puzzles: why Hellenistic kings taxed Greek cities at lower than expected rates; why elites in Greek cities supported democracy; and why elites were not more heavily taxed by democratic majorities. The relationship between walls, democracy, and taxes promoted continued economic growth into the late classical and Hellenistic period (4th-2nd centuries BCE), and ultimately contributed to the survival of Greek culture into the Roman era, and thus modernity. We conclude with a consideration of whether the walls-democracy relationship holds in modernity.

'Rulers Ruled by Women': An Economic Analysis of the Rise and Fall of Women's Rights in Ancient Sparta by Robert K. Fleck, F. Andrew Hanssen: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=788106
Throughout most of history, women as a class have possessed relatively few formal rights. The women of ancient Sparta were a striking exception. Although they could not vote, Spartan women reportedly owned 40 percent of Sparta's agricultural land and enjoyed other rights that were equally extraordinary. We offer a simple economic explanation for the Spartan anomaly. The defining moment for Sparta was its conquest of a neighboring land and people, which fundamentally changed the marginal products of Spartan men's and Spartan women's labor. To exploit the potential gains from a reallocation of labor - specifically, to provide the appropriate incentives and the proper human capital formation - men granted women property (and other) rights. Consistent with our explanation for the rise of women's rights, when Sparta lost the conquered land several centuries later, the rights for women disappeared. Two conclusions emerge that may help explain why women's rights have been so rare for most of history. First, in contrast to the rest of the world, the optimal (from the men's perspective) division of labor among Spartans involved women in work that was not easily monitored by men. Second, the rights held by Spartan women may have been part of an unstable equilibrium, which contained the seeds of its own destruction.
study  broad-econ  economics  polisci  political-econ  institutions  government  north-weingast-like  democracy  walls  correlation  polis  history  mediterranean  iron-age  the-classics  microfoundations  modernity  comparison  architecture  military  public-goodish  elite  civic  taxes  redistribution  canon  literature  big-peeps  conquest-empire  rent-seeking  defense  models  GT-101  incentives  urban  urban-rural  speculation  interdisciplinary  cliometrics  multi  civil-liberty  gender  gender-diff  equilibrium  cycles  branches  labor  interests  property-rights  unintended-consequences  explanation  explanans  analysis  econ-productivity  context  arrows  micro  natural-experiment 
november 2017 by nhaliday
Global determinants of navigation ability | bioRxiv
Using a mobile-based virtual reality navigation task, we measured spatial navigation ability in more than 2.5 million people globally. Using a clustering approach, we find that navigation ability is not smoothly distributed globally but clustered into five distinct yet geographically related groups of countries. Furthermore, the economic wealth of a nation (Gross Domestic Product per capita) was predictive of the average navigation ability of its inhabitants and gender inequality (Gender Gap Index) was predictive of the size of performance difference between males and females.

- Figure 1 has the meat
- gender gap larger in richer/better-performing countries
- Anglo and Nordic countries do best (Finnish supremacy wins the day again)
- surprised China doesn't do better, probably a matter of development
- Singapore is close behind the Anglo-Nords tho
- speculation that practice of orienteering (originally Swedish) may be related to Nords doing well
- somewhat weird pattern wrt age
study  bio  preprint  psychology  cog-psych  iq  psychometrics  spatial  navigation  pop-diff  gender  gender-diff  egalitarianism-hierarchy  correlation  wealth  wealth-of-nations  econ-metrics  data  visualization  maps  world  developing-world  marginal  europe  the-great-west-whale  nordic  britain  anglo  usa  anglosphere  china  asia  sinosphere  polis  demographics  age-generation  aging  EU  group-level  regional-scatter-plots  games  simulation 
september 2017 by nhaliday
Montesquieu, Causes of the Greatness of the Romans
What makes free states last a shorter time than others is that both the misfortunes and the successes they encounter almost always cause them to lose their freedom. In a state where the people are held in subjection, however, successes and misfortunes alike confirm their servitude. A wise republic should hazard nothing that exposes it to either good or bad fortune. The only good to which it should aspire is the perpetuation of its condition.

If the greatness of the empire ruined the republic, the greatness of the city ruined it no less.

Rome had subjugated the whole world with the help of the peoples of Italy, to whom it had at different times given various privileges.2;a At first most of these peoples did not care very much about the right of Roman citizenship, and some preferred to keep their customs.3 But when this right meant universal sovereignty, and a man was nothing in the world if he was not a Roman citizen and everything if he was, the peoples of Italy resolved to perish or become Romans. Unable to succeed by their intrigues and entreaties, they took the path of arms. They revolted all along the coast of the Ionian sea; the other allies started to follow them.4 Forced to fight against those who were, so to speak, the hands with which it enslaved the world, Rome was lost. It was going to be reduced to its walls; it therefore accorded the coveted right of citizenship to the allies who had not yet ceased being loyal,5 and gradually to all.

After this, Rome was no longer a city whose people had but a single spirit, a single love of liberty, a single hatred

a In extent and importance, Latin rights were between Roman and Italian rights.

of tyranny — a city where the jealousy of the senate's power and the prerogatives of the great, always mixed with respect, was only a love of equality. Once the peoples of Italy became its citizens, each city brought to Rome its genius, its particular interests, and its dependence on some great protector.6 The distracted city no longer formed a complete whole. And since citizens were such only by a kind of fiction, since they no longer had the same magistrates, the same walls, the same gods, the same temples, and the same graves, they no longer saw Rome with the same eyes, no longer had the same love of country, and Roman sentiments were no more.

The ambitious brought entire cities and nations to Rome to disturb the voting or get themselves elected. The assemblies were veritable conspiracies; a band of seditious men was called a comitia.b The people's authority, their laws and even the people themselves became chimerical things, and the anarchy was such that it was no longer possible to know whether the people had or had not adopted an ordinance.7

We hear in the authors only of the dissensions that ruined Rome, without seeing that these dissensions were necessary to it, that they had always been there and always had to be. It was the greatness of the republic that caused all the trouble and changed popular tumults into civil wars. There had to be dissensions in Rome, for warriors who were so proud, so audacious, so terrible abroad could not be very moderate at home. To ask for men in a free state who are bold in war and timid in peace is to wish the impossible. And, as a general rule, whenever we see everyone tranquil in a state that calls itself a republic, we can be sure that liberty does not exist there.

What is called union in a body politic is a very equivocal thing. The true kind is a union of harmony, whereby all the

b These were the assemblies into which the Roman people were organized for electoral purposes.

parts, however opposed they may appear, cooperate for the general good of society — as dissonances in music cooperate in producing overall concord. In a state where we seem to see nothing but commotion there can be union — that is, a harmony resulting in happiness, which alone is true peace. It is as with the parts of the universe, eternally linked together by the action of some and the reaction of others.

But, in the concord of Asiatic despotism — that is, of all government which is not moderate — there is always real dissension. The worker, the soldier, the lawyer, the magistrate, the noble are joined only inasmuch as some oppress the others without resistance. And, if we see any union there, it is not citizens who are united but dead bodies buried one next to the other.

It is true that the laws of Rome became powerless to govern the republic. But it is a matter of common observation that good laws, which have made a small republic grow large, become a burden to it when it is enlarged. For they were such that their natural effect was to create a great people, not to govern it.

There is a considerable difference between good laws and expedient laws — between those that enable a people to make itself master of others, and those that maintain its power once it is acquired.

There exists in the world at this moment a republic that hardly anyone knows about,8 and that — in secrecy and silence — increases its strength every day. Certainly, if it ever attains the greatness for which its wisdom destines it, it will necessarily change its laws. And this will not be the work of a legislator but of corruption itself.

Rome was made for expansion, and its laws were admirable for this purpose. Thus, whatever its government had been — whether the power of kings, aristocracy, or a popular state — it never ceased undertaking enterprises that made demands on its conduct, and succeeded in them. It did not prove wiser than all the other states on earth for a day, but continually. It. sustained meager, moderate and great prosperity with the same superiority, and had neither successes from which it did not profit, nor misfortunes of which it made no use.

It lost its liberty because it completed the work it wrought too soon.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
The Conservation of Coercion - American Affairs Journal
The two faces of the Kapauku Papuans, and the way their anarchist-friendly political order rested on a deeply illiberal social order, neatly express how Technology and the End of Authority, by the Cato Institute scholar Jason Kuznicki, is both an interesting and a maddening book. Kuznicki states that he was inspired to write the book when he wondered why so many classical political philosophers, despite their disagreements over a vast number of topics, nevertheless all believed the nature and proper role of the state was the most important question concerning the proper organization of human affairs. Even libertarian and anarchist political theorists obsess about states, filling books with discussions of when and why we ought to reject them as illegitimate. The nature of their opposition implicitly concedes that the state, its value and purpose, is the central question for us to grapple with.

In contrast, Kuznicki invites us, if not to ignore the state, then at least to banish it from the forefront of our thinking. He asks us to consider states as just one tool among many that human societies have deployed to solve various sorts of problems. The state is neither God nor the Devil, but something pragmatic and unromantic—like a sewage system, or a town dump. Yes, we want it to function smoothly lest the place start to stink, but good taste demands that we not focus obsessively on its operation. Statecraft, like sanitation engineering, is a dirty job that somebody has to do, but unlike sanitation engineering it should also be a mildly embarrassing one. The notion that political means are a locus of the good, or that the state is imbued with the highest purposes of society, is as ridiculous as the notion that a city exists for its sewers rather than vice versa. So, Kuznicki suggests, we should treat anybody attempting to derive the correct or legitimate purposes of the state with the same skepticism with which we would view somebody waxing philosophical about a trash compactor. The real center of society, the topics worth debating and pondering, are all the other institutions—like markets, churches, sports teams, scientific schools, and families—whose existence the correct operation of the state supports.


The second implication of Kuznicki’s statecraft-as-engineering is that any determination about the proper role and behavior of government must remain unsettled not only by historical and cultural context, but also by the ambient level of technology. Kuznicki explores this at some length. He does not mean to make the common argument that the particular set of technologies deployed within a society can be more or less conducive to particular forms of government—as mass democracy might be encouraged by technologies of communication and travel, or as centralized autocracy might tend to arise in societies relying on large-scale irrigation for intensive agriculture. Rather, if the state is a tool for solving an array of otherwise intractable social problems, Kuznicki surmises, a newly discovered technological solution to such a problem could remove it from the state’s set of concerns—perhaps permanently.


What are the qualities of a society which make it more or less likely to be able to solve these dilemmas as they come up? Social scientists call societies that support commitment and enforcement mechanisms sufficient to overcome such dilemmas “high trust.” Some sources of social trust are mundane: for instance, it seems to make a big difference for a society to simply have a high enough median wealth that someone isn’t liable to be ruined if he or she takes a gamble on trusting a stranger and ends up getting cheated. Others are fuzzier: shared participation in churches, clubs, and social organizations can also significantly increase the degree of solidarity and trust in a community. Thinkers from Tocqueville to Robert Nisbet have pointed out the ways in which the ascendant state makes war upon and seeks to displace the “little platoons” of civil society. It is not well appreciated today that the reverse is also true: a “thick” culture rooted in shared norms and shared history can make the state less necessary by helping to raise the ambient level of social trust above whatever threshold makes it possible for citizens to organize and discipline themselves without state compulsion.


The story of the diamontaires ends with the whole system, private courts and all, falling apart following an influx of non-Hasidic actors into the New York diamond industry. But lack of trust and solidarity aren’t just problems if we want private courts. Yes, a very high degree of social trust can help to replace or displace state institutions, but any amount of trust tends to make governments more efficient and less corrupt. It isn’t a coincidence that many of the most successful governments on earth, whether efficient and well-run welfare states on the Scandinavian model or free-market havens boasting low taxes and few regulations, have been small, tight-knit, often culturally and linguistically homogeneous. Conversely, history’s most successful multiethnic polities have tended to be empires or confederations with a very high degree of provincial or local autonomy. Government is not a problem that scales gracefully: certainly not with number of citizens, but perhaps also not with number of constituent cultures. Those who love cosmopolitanism (among whom I count myself) talk a great deal about the incidental benefits it brings, and a great deal less about its drawbacks. I and other cosmopolitans love to exalt the dynamism that comes from diversity and the way it can help a society avoid falling into complacency. We are less willing to discuss the tiny invisible tax on everything and everybody that reduced social trust imposes, and the ways in which that will tend to make a nation more sclerotic.

In the absence of trust, every private commercial or social interaction becomes just a little bit more expensive, a little bit less efficient, and a little bit less likely to happen at all. Individuals are more cautious in their dealings with strangers, businesses are less likely to extend credit, everybody is a little more uncertain about the future, and people adjust their investment decisions accordingly. Individuals and businesses spend more money on bike locks, security systems, and real estate they perceive to be “safe,” rather than on the consumption or investment they would otherwise prefer. Critics of capitalism frequently observe that a liberal economic order depends upon, and sometimes cannibalizes, precapitalist sources of loyalty and affection. What if the same is true of political freedom more generally?

Some might object that even to consider such a thing is to give in to the forces of bigotry. But the whole point of taking a flinty-eyed engineer’s approach to state-building is that we don’t have to like the constraints we are working with, we just have to deal with them. The human preference for “people like us”—whether that means coreligionists or people who share our musical tastes, and whether we choose to frame it as bigotry or as game-theoretic rationality—is a stubborn, resilient reality. Perhaps in the future some advanced genetic engineering or psychological conditioning will change that. For now we need to recognize and deal with the fact that if we wish to have cosmopolitanism, we need to justify it on robust philosophical grounds, with full awareness of the costs as well as the benefits that it brings to bear on every member of society.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Where Is Fertility Low, and Since When? – In a State of Migration – Medium
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june 2017 by nhaliday
What would count as an explanation of the size of China? - Marginal REVOLUTION

Wades into the age-old debate: why did post-Roman Europe remain fragmented but China had such a long and early history of unification? It's not geography per se, but how geography interacted with warfare & state formation



Unified China and Divided Europe: http://sci-hub.tw/http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/iere.12270/full

From the ‘Great Convergence’ to the ‘First Great Divergence’: Roman and Qin-Han state formation and its aftermath: https://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/scheidel/110702.pdf

Knights Hospitaller thread
Sod Pepsi's navy.

Let's talk about the point after WW2 where the Knights Hospitaller, of medieval crusading fame, 'accidentally' became a major European air power.

I shitteth ye not. 🛩️🛩️
Now the important thing here is the CONTINUED EXISTENCE AS A SOVEREIGN STATE of the Knights Hospitaller. They held Malta right up until 1798, when Napoleon finally managed to boot them out on his way to Egypt.

(Partly because the French contingent of the Knights swapped sides)
And that's why today, even thought they are now fully committed to the Red-Cross-esque stuff, they can still issue passports, are a permanent observer at the UN, have a currency...

..,and even have a tiny bit of Malta back.

More here:
Having a lot of small functional states instead of a few big ones is cool for entertainment and variety reasons.
The MENA was also polyarchic in the Middle Ages, but did it produce interesting states?
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The Ghost of Conservatism Past | Intercollegiate Studies Institute: Educating for Liberty
Conservatism may have a future in America, but it will arise most likely from families and intentional communities that live as a counterculture to self-immolating American liberalism, and not as something that will be created in a political laboratory by the educated or from the wreckage of a Flight 93 administration in Washington, D.C.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
What software engineers are making around the world right now | TechCrunch


The eight leading U.S. tech hubs account for slightly less than 10% of U.S. jobs and about 13% of overall job postings. But the cities — Seattle, San Francisco, San Jose, Austin, Raleigh, Washington, Baltimore and Boston — account for more than 27% of the listings for U.S. tech jobs, research from Jed Kolko, the chief economist of the job-search website Indeed, shows.

That’s already a striking concentration, but tech jobs with the highest salaries are even more centralized. Among jobs that typically pay over $100,000, nearly 40% of openings are in those eight cities.

The hubs are defined as the cities with the highest share of jobs in tech, so cities like New York City, with large populations but not a concentrated focus on tech, do not count.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Garett Jones on Twitter: "Timocracy, epistocracy, and other governance mechanisms should all be candidly considered as alternatives to the universal franchise. https://t.co/prHLBDjtqB"


Look, the solution here is a Mormon theocratic state.
Theodemocracy deserves further exploration


The three men who now lead the LDS church include a prominent heart surgeon, a former state supreme court justice (and U of Chicago professor), and a former Stanford business professor, trained at HBS.

Tax credits for converting to the LDS faith, that's my non-ironic platform, don't @ me
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The Numbers Speak: Foreign Language Requirements Are a Waste of Time and Money, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty
25.7% of respondents speak a language other than English. Within this sample, 41.5% claim to speak the other language "very well." Within this sub-sub-sample, just 7.0% say they learned to speak this foreign language in school. If you multiply out these three percentages, you get 0.7%. The marginal product of two years of pain and suffering per high school graduate: less than one student in a hundred acquires fluency. (And that's self-assessed fluency, which people almost surely exaggerate).

If you lower the bar from "very well" to "well" the picture remains grim: merely 2.5% of GSS respondents claimed to reach this level of foreign language competence in school.

confirms my intuition

Language is Culture: https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/language-is-culture/
First of all, LKY, peace be with him, was not a “self-taught linguist”. He’s a guy who learned some languages as an adult. That doesn’t make him a linguist. This makes him a language learner. There’s billions of those across the world. Lee Kuan Yew certainly wasn’t very good at it; the ability to learn foreign languages doesn’t correlate very strongly with IQ.

Mr. Lee held the popular idea that language was a zero-sum game? No, Mr. Lee understood the commonsensical idea that your brain has limited storage capacity. Like anything else. Your brain is made of atoms. It is not made of magic. It is not made of godly dust. It is a material thing. It is, in a sense, a container of information, and information takes space. It obviously does in computers; pray tell, NYT, why the brain should have infinite capacity? It doesn’t make sense.

Now I don’t know if LKY thought of it in these terms. I think that, as a language learner, he went by experience. I guess the more time he spent practicing Mandarin, or Hokkien, or Malay, the worse his English prose got. And that’s exactly how it works. Happens to me all the time, and happens to anyone who uses 2 or more languages regularly. The more different the languages, the less commons structures they share, the more acute the problem. Again, there is no reason why it should not be so. Information takes space. It isn’t hard.

Alas, it is true that academic linguists will not tell you this, even though they probably did in the 1950s. That is not because common sense has been “refuted”. It is because since the 1960s academia has morphed into a worldwide racket of fraud and deceit. If you read this blog you already know that; economics is bogus, climate science is bogus, psychology is bogus; even more than half of medical papers are bogus. Well, surprise surprise, linguistics is also bogus. The language learning industry is huge. There’s a lot of money in telling people that the brain is made of magic dust, that they can learn whatever they want whenever they want, as long as they give you money. 3 languages at the same time? Go for it! Kids are like sponges, they can learn anything. No, they can’t.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Annotating Greg Cochran’s interview with James Miller
opinion of Scott and Hanson: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90238
Greg's methodist: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90256
You have to consider the relative strengths of Japan and the USA. USA was ~10x stronger, industrially, which is what mattered. Technically superior (radar, Manhattan project). Almost entirely self-sufficient in natural resources. Japan was sure to lose, and too crazy to quit, which meant that they would lose after being smashed flat.
There’s a fairly common way of looking at things in which the bad guys are not at fault because they’re bad guys, born that way, and thus can’t help it. Well, we can’t help it either, so the hell with them. I don’t think we had to respect Japan’s innate need to fuck everybody in China to death.

2nd part: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:9ab84243b967

some additional things:
- political correctness, the Cathedral and the left (personnel continuity but not ideology/value) at start
- joke: KT impact = asteroid mining, every mass extinction = intelligent life destroying itself
- Alawites: not really Muslim, women liberated because "they don't have souls", ended up running shit in Syria because they were only ones that wanted to help the British during colonial era
- solution to Syria: "put the Alawites in NYC"
- Zimbabwe was OK for a while, if South Africa goes sour, just "put the Boers in NYC" (Miller: left would probably say they are "culturally incompatible", lol)
- story about Lincoln and his great-great-great-grandfather
- skepticism of free speech
- free speech, authoritarianism, and defending against the Mongols
- Scott crazy (not in a terrible way), LW crazy (genetics), ex.: polyamory
- TFP or microbio are better investments than stereotypical EA stuff
- just ban AI worldwide (bully other countries to enforce)
- bit of a back-and-forth about macroeconomics
- not sure climate change will be huge issue. world's been much warmer before and still had a lot of mammals, etc.
- he quite likes Pseudoerasmus
- shits on modern conservatism/Bret Stephens a bit

- mentions Japan having industrial base a tenth the size of the US's and no chance of winning WW2 around 11m mark
- describes himself as "fairly religious" around 20m mark
- 27m30s: Eisenhower was smart, read Carlyle, classical history, etc.

but was Nixon smarter?: https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2019/03/18/open-thread-03-18-2019/
The Scandals of Meritocracy. Virtue vs. competence. Would you rather have a boss who is evil but competent, or good but incompetent? The reality is you have to balance the two. Richard Nixon was probably smarter that Dwight Eisenhower in raw g, but Eisenhower was probably a better person.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Destined for War: Can China and the United States Escape Thucydides’s Trap? - The Atlantic
The defining question about global order for this generation is whether China and the United States can escape Thucydides’s Trap. The Greek historian’s metaphor reminds us of the attendant dangers when a rising power rivals a ruling power—as Athens challenged Sparta in ancient Greece, or as Germany did Britain a century ago. Most such contests have ended badly, often for both nations, a team of mine at the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs has concluded after analyzing the historical record. In 12 of 16 cases over the past 500 years, the result was war. When the parties avoided war, it required huge, painful adjustments in attitudes and actions on the part not just of the challenger but also the challenged.

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march 2017 by nhaliday
Lee Kuan Yew versus the SIA Strikers - YouTube
"Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards! This is your life and mine! I've spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I'm in charge, nobody is going to knock it down."
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march 2017 by nhaliday
GINI index (World Bank estimate) | Data
Gini in the bottle: https://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2013/11/inequality-america
The figure and its data come from Janet Gornick, the director of a CUNY research centre on international inequality. The dark-blue lines tell a now-familiar tale: America boasts the highest post-tax-and-transfer income inequality of any highly developed country in the world. The metric at play is a number between 0 and 1 known as the Gini coefficient. In a hypothetical country with a coefficient of 0, everyone has exactly the same income, while a nation with a coefficient of 1.0 is home to one fat cat who takes everything while everyone else earns nil. At 0.42, America’s level of post-tax-and-transfer inequality outranks Israel, Britain and Canada, and dwarfs the figures in Japan and Scandinavia.
Ms Gornick’s light-blue lines reveal a less well-reported story. Those lines show pre-tax-and-transfer income inequality, and on that count America doesn’t fare badly in comparison to other OECD countries. At 0.57, America is neck-and-neck with Spain and every Scandinavian nation, and less unequal than Britain, Greece and Ireland. But the American taxation and welfare state clips only 0.15 off of the pre-tax-and-transfer Gini coefficient, while more aggressively egalitarian countries slice off 0.20 (Luxembourg, Norway), 0.24 (Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden) or 0.28 (Ireland).
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Malcolm Caldwell - Wikipedia
James Alexander Malcolm Caldwell (27 September 1931 – 23 December 1978) was a British academic and a prolific Marxist writer. He was a consistent critic of American foreign policy, a campaigner for Asian communist and socialist movements, and a supporter of the Khmer Rouge. Malcolm Caldwell was murdered, under mysterious circumstances, a few hours after meeting Pol Pot in Cambodia.

(1979) Lee Kuan Yew: The Man, His Mayoralty and His Mafia.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
The Man Who Made Singapore | City Journal
The founder of the independent city-state of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew, who has just died at 91, was undoubtedly the most intelligent and capable world leader of the past half-century.
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december 2016 by nhaliday
Lee Kuan Yew, Grand Master of Asia | The National Interest
Nevertheless, Western ideals of individuals’ basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have become part of the mental geography of China’s “golden billion,” who are becoming increasingly part of the world outside China. Lee thinks this bodes well for the future of the Asia-Pacific: “peace and security in the region will turn on whether China emerges as a xenophobic, chauvinistic force, bitter and hostile to the West, or educated and involved in the ways of the world, more cosmopolitan, more internationalized and outward looking.”

Will India rival or even surpass China’s rise? The U.S. government recently asked its $50 billion intelligence community this question. Their recently released report, Global Trends 2030, forecasts that “the most rapid growth of the middle class will occur in Asia, with India somewhat ahead of China in the long term.” Lee Kuan Yew disagrees strongly. As he puts it, provocatively: “When Nehru was in charge, I thought India showed promise of becoming a thriving society and a great power,” but it has not “because of its stifling bureaucracy” and its “rigid caste system.” Being deliberately provocative, Lee says: “India is not a real country. Instead it is thirty-two separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line.”

In the competition between East and West, he expects Asia to overshadow the Euro-Atlantic powers. The principal reasons why have more to do with culture than with numbers. In his view, “Westerners have abandoned an ethical basis for society, believing that all problems are solvable by a good government. In the East, we start with self-reliance.”
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december 2016 by nhaliday
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty - The Atlantic
The case for colonialism: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01436597.2017.1369037

The Case for Contrarianism: http://quillette.com/2017/10/10/the-case-for-contrarianism/
Another semester, another academic publishing scandal, complete with calls for penitence and punishment. This time the catalyst is “The Case for Colonialism,” a “Viewpoint” editorial in Third World Quarterly. In this essay, Bruce Gilley argued that “it is high time to question [the anti-colonial] orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts.” Gilley’s article has since been withdrawn due to “serious and credible threats of personal violence” made against the journal’s editor. This obviously troubling development should make us wonder: just what evil would this article have brought about if not withdrawn? The Streisand effect is in full display here. The article – detailed, abstruse, and not always beautifully written – has no doubt been far more widely read than it would have been without the controversy.


What’s worth emulating about a prediction market is that it turns the expression of unpopular beliefs into a low-risk, high-reward enterprise. In the real, social world, it is often very costly to dissent from a dominant view: friendships can be lost and careers ruined. But it is not costly at all to assent to a dominant view; on the contrary, conforming in this way is helpful and often necessary both socially and professionally.

Now, consider the situation of someone who believes, for instance, that the dominant view is just as likely to be false as it is true. Normal incentives push such a person to go along with the dominant view, and they may feel perfectly comfortable about it. But the incentives of a prediction market would push a person in the opposite manner. They would push a person, who believes the dominant view is actually a 50/50 proposition, to invest in the belief which has a higher reward – that is, the less popular viewpoint. The distribution of this market ends up more rational over time simply because the dominant view is not artificially inflated by people playing it safe.

Author of article on “the case for colonialism” withdraws it after death threats and social-media mobbing; academics are mostly silent: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/author-of-article-on-the-case-for-colonialism-withdraws-it-after-death-threats-and-social-media-mobbing-colleagues-are-mostly-silent/
“Credible threats of personal violence” against editor prompt withdrawal of colonialism paper: http://retractionwatch.com/2017/10/09/credible-threats-personal-violence-editor-prompt-withdrawal-colonialism-paper/
How the hate mob tried to silence me: http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/7027/full
- Bruce Gilley

This is where the "Case for Colonialism" paper goes wrong. Western states today couldn't recolonize an anthill. It's Singapore's job
I wouldn't put today's Western states in charge of anything important
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july 2016 by nhaliday
List Of The Passages I Highlighted In My Copy Of Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” | Slate Star Codex
“Words are inadequate to describe the emotion aroused by the prolonged movement in unison that drilling involved. A sense of pervasive well-being is what I recall; more specifically, a strange sense of personal enlargement; a sort of swelling out, becoming bigger than life, thanks to participation in collective ritual.”

reminds me of http://www.meltingasphalt.com/music-in-human-evolution/
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april 2016 by nhaliday

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